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THE SHILLING BABY., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2052, 1 February 1889
THE SHILLING BABY.
I AN INCIDENT OF THE LONDON | SLAVS TRADE. (By T. J. Barnardo, F.R.CY?.) (Oonoluded from onr lait.) My messenger was away perhaps threequarters of an hour. Ho returned to tell me that she had gone into one of the public-houses at the end of the street j that she hed plaosd the child sitting upon the bar, while she hod called for some drink ; and that she had then entered upon a long and maudlin account of her oase to the bar-keeper, whose response had not been very encouraging. " Well," he said, " yon are a fool 1 You'll get yourself Into a nice mes», I shouldn't won* der if something happened to theohild,and j youM get a ooup'.e of years, and perhaps worse," snd so on. And at length he added, " If I were yon, I would take her baok. Perhaps he would have her after all. She had vaolllated for a long time between two minds, but finally, after having had more drink, she had decided t i return to me ; and my beadle prepared me for her reoeptlon by saying, " She Is ooming baok now, sir." And m a few minutes m she tottered. I oonld see at • glance that she was tipsier th;n before, and, with the child on her arm, she osolllated now so much from side to Bide that lt was evident that If she fell the poor little oreatura wonld be seriously lojuted against the wall. It was therefore a relief to mo when she placed the child on the table onoe more, and resumed, m a tone meant to be very conciliatory, " Weil, these y'ar, guy'ner ; ye shal 1 have her for a crown . " Rut a principle was worth something, and most be maintained. I replied, therefore, with a severe look and m the sternest tones j " No, oertainly hot 1 The child is not yours t Yon have no right to lt, nor have you oared for it properly, as anybody oan see. You leave the child In my oare, and I will do what I oan ; but 1 oertainly will not give yon 6a." Bhe shed a few tears, due more to the drink than to my sternness, though she ; obose to make me believe it was the latter. " Well," she raid, " don'c be hash i Ye shall hava her for half a crown " "No," I responded; "by no means \ Give np the ehlld at onoe, leave lt here, and I will take charge of It; but I shall not give yon the money yon ask for." This further refusal again gave her paosaj but at length, after muttering . renewed protestations, for perhaps fifteen mlnntes, she said : "Well, guvnor, let's befriends! Te shall have her for a bob," , I was now really , anxious to get rid at onoe of tbe unhappy woman, and to see the baby m safe keeping. I felt that perhaps a shilling wonld not be a very great Inducement to others ; so, williog to relieve myself of the woman's presenoe, . and yet eager to save tbe little ml»e, I , said : " Very well ; Ido not think I onght . to give you even this money, wh!oh you will spend m drink ; bui I will do so for the poor child's sa^e." I then rang the bell for the matron of onr Infirmary opposite; and, when she had taken the emaciated li tie creature ia , her arras, I handed the woman a shilling, ; anal uttered a few words of solemn warning , and of serious advice. Rat such words were of little use : the drink had stopped her ears and stolen her senses. She left me nnimpmsed, nodding her head with . a maudlin gravity, and saying, as she went out, " All right, guv'nor.'^ Rut I hsd secured my baby j She was forthwith taken m oharge by the Matron ot the Infirmary, that she might be i cleansed, and rendered fib to be sent down I to cur Village Home for girl?, at Ilford, Essex. In half an hour the Matron came over with a very queer expression on her, face, "I wish?' she said, "you would let me tend down the baby jaat as it is. , It is really m such a dreadful state, and I ' it would do them, good at Ilford to see come of the children just as they come to us." To this I assented, and the little creature wos at once taken down by the Matron to our Village Home. i I subsequently learned tbat when the . little waif reached Ilford, the motherly f heart of the Lady Superintendent was inexpressibly touched by tfie ohild's appearJ anoe, and she set to work to perform the needful duty herself m hor own house, i The servants, moved with pity, drew i round the little object with wonderment, al of them eager to help m wh*t seemed like the personal rescue of a poor child ready to perish ; but how where they to begin ? There was no beginning or ending anywhere to be found to tho olothes ; there were no buttons, hooks, or eyes. It did not seem that the clothes had been uuully taken off at all ; they were simply knotted on with strings, and the knots did not appear to have been untied for days or even weeks. At last, to rid themselves of a puzzle they had to resort to the soissors ; and the whole of tha olotbing was cut from top to bottom, and so fell off the ohild. The miserable little thing was found to be but ekin and bone — a living skeleton The curious objeot tied to her waiat, and which she occasionally sucked, turned out to be an old fish bone wrapped m a pieoe of cotton ; and this mu6t have been at least three weeks or a month old I This it was tbat the wretched infant munched from time to time with a gravity that was heart-breaking to witness However, the process of oieansing was at length complete. And, after a while, tbe child was placed m one of. the cottageß of our happy Village Home, where it beoame the pet and plaything, as a baby generally is, of ihe family. .One great advantage of our Oottage Home system for Girls is, that among th* sixteen or twenty, children who gather round the • hristian "Mother" who presides over eaoh ho behold, there are unequalled opportunities for the developmenc of family life. There are perhnpg one or two babiep, who are quite helpless and dependent on others for every need ; then, at the next etage are the young ! ones, whose moity prattle and gentle ways endear them to all; then there are the older girls, who, with a gravity betokening their years, have allotted to them the oare of come of their younger sisters : and as the whole of the household work Is divi.'ed among the family, according to their age and step, there are just suoh feehngß cultivated, and such a round of daily experiences, as would be the case m any ope of the humble family homes of England. It was In such' a little household as this, where the voice of prayer was habitually heard aud Christian ways and influences reigned, that my poor resQued baby was plaoed. I was at that time less occupied than I have been of late years, and I had a very pleasant custom of occasionally taking tea with the inmates of one or other of the cotteges, if I happened to be at the Village, and if opportunity served. So it camo to the tnrn of Pea- blossom Oottage to offer me hospitality. Need'osa to be said, I was given the seat of honor on tbe right hand of " Mother," who sat at the end of the table, whila the ohildren gathered round for the evening meal ; but to my left hand was a high chair for the youngest member of tbe household, tbe baby, the pet whom all loved, whose winsome ways made ber tbe darling of mother and of girls alike. A sweeter little mite than the chubOy, blue-eyed, curly-haired baby girl of some three years of age, when perched m tbe light ohair by my side, it would have been difficult to dlsoover. But I was puzzled by the appearance of this little one, I thought I knew all about my bairns, but somehow I had lost cognizance of the Ratoliff waif 1 tried during the meal not to betray my Ignoranov while I attempted fa vain to recall who this ohlid was, or whete she bad Oome f*Jtn. At length, In a half-whlipar 1 I Wf4 to the mother, "I really forget
i who your baby Is. What is her n*me?| and now long have you had her?' Aj fond glanoe at the child and a pleasant ' look at me accompanied the reply, spoken m an equally Inw voloe, *' Why; don't you reoolleot . She is the Shilling RVbyl" In a moment the lnoident of the previous year flashed opon my mind. The infamous lodging house In the margin of one of our lowest streets m Bast London; tbe Inmates leading a grossly sinful life ; tho woman whose degradation was so prof.uidly marked, and who had brought the child to my door } and then the face of the ohild herself, that dreadful faoe, so wan and worn and unobildlike ; those large, wistfulf Inexpressibly sad eyes; the wasted form, arid the dull, hopeless expression of suffering which bad stamped Itself upon' the child's features ; the Inter* view, too, at whfeh I had purchased the child for a shilling from her wretched owner; — all this came baok to me m a rush of memories I Yet, accustomed as I was to the transformations taking place around me, among my rescued ohildren, I oonfess I was astounded by tbe obange wbioh a few brief months of loving oare aud happy, Innocent surroundings had effeoted In the little girl sitting by my side. My hearc was too full for utterance* As I reflected, I could but bow my head on my hand over the table to conceal for a moment my face from the observant little ones, and then from my very soul I gave God thanks for His meroy: In enabling nae to hold out to ao forlorn a ohild the golden sceptre of a meroy that would, by His grace, purify and bless Its whole existence. This Ratoliff lodging-house waif is but a type of hundreds— indeed, of thousands, for the reoord of our Homes now contain over twelve thousand enrolments. These poor little wanderers come to me m most abject guises, with a dumb but eloquent appeal for help In every line of their Wan faces. At the present moment nearly three thousand Waif or Orphan Ohildren are m the Homes, and yet, ales] thousands upon thousands are outside— many of them the children of just- sitch mothers as those whose tragic deaths m Whitechapel have recently shocked thi civilized world"- waiting for the hand oi the deliverer. God has set melbetween His people on the one band, and these His dear bnt sofferlng Little Ones on the other, lad His steward and yours; Iq your Stead an m His strength 1 daily carry on the most blessed of all earthly enterprises the rescue . of those who are " drawn unte death," but whose souls are the jewels oi the Redeemer's crown. The ohildren arc m danger around our very do&re, and too often no man regardeth. God has eel up our Homes as Cities of Rafoge, wltb their doors ever open to these oppressed Little Ones. He has very manifestly, too, put the seal of Bis blessing np^n our whole work.; and now we waH ; upon Him m faith aad confidence thai He would enable us to open still more widely these doors of rescue. Let me only add that bur neoeselttei ! this winter are urgently pressing. As I i have said, nearly 3000 children -babies, girls, boys, and big (ads already In these Homes—require maintenance and dallj : oare, and this Is a burden heavhr than oan easily be realised ; and besfdee these, bach DAT some eight or ten fresh cases are admitted— snatched, often at tne las) 'moment, from Impending ruin. No one can undertake a task more benefioiali tc Sooiety, or more €brlsMike m its nature, than the rescue of such waif and destitute ohildren, each one of whom, neglected, constitutes, as we have all to sadly learn 3 a reproach to the Christian Ohnrch and a standing menace to tbe State. Rere Is an enterprise worthy of the Christian*! noblest energies, the work of matching these lambs of the flook from Immlneni destruction alike of body and soul, and bi adding them to tbe rescued fold of tbe Good Shepherd; " 18 to 26, Stepney Oausewi_r_ London, E. . .
THE SHILLING BABY., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2052, 1 February 1889
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